This is one of the most enjoyable reads for me so far on the customer spotlight series. I hope you all enjoy reading about Robin and his Falconry journey too!
Robin Manson lives in…..Fife, Scotland.
Q - What inspired you to start Falconry?
A - The incredible film “Kes” I received a copy for Christmas one year and I was hooked, I was 23 at the time. The next year I received a gift voucher for an experience day at my local falconry centre, the voucher was valid for a year but I was so keen I went out three days after Christmas. From there I started volunteering at the centre, from just one day a week then I ended up quitting my job, and started volunteering for 5 days a week. I worked there for just under a year before I decided that I would be better suited to practising Falconry as a hobby rather than a profession. That was about 8 years ago and I’ve been flying my own bird for about 5 years now.
Q - What was your first bird?
A - A female Eurasian Kestrel, I called her Mito after my first motorbike (my other passion). I ordered what I thought was a parent reared male kestrel from a breeder, but as it turns out I was sold a female imprint. I passed Mito on to my local falconry centre three seasons later, with lots of tears in my eyes, but I knew she would be well looked after and I still get to see her from time to time.
Q - What is your favourite bird to fly?
A - For me it has to be my female Sparrowhawk, Ren. She is just amazing to watch, the speed, agility, reactions and desire to catch her quarry are unmatched. Flying her at Magpies gives incredible sport as they are so clever and present an equal match for her skill. I’ve seen flights that last 3 seconds and others that last 3 minutes, both of which are just amazing.
Q - What is the most memorable moment you have experienced in Falconry to date?
A - I was out flying Mito one warm summer’s evening at one of my usual spots when a wild female Sparrowhawk appeared from nowhere and started to chase her out in the open. Mito stayed about 8-12 inches in front of the spar the whole time, ducking, diving, twisting and turning, it was like a WW2 style dog fight between two rival fighter pilots, happening only yards away from me. Every time the spar gained on Mito, Mito would speed up to maintain the gap, it was like they were just playing with each other. My heart was in my mouth the whole time, I recalled Mito to the glove and the spar turned away when she got too close to me, the whole thing only lasted about 10 seconds but it was easily the best thing I’ve ever seen, to watch these two awesome little predators fly at speed with such skill was simply breath-taking. I’ll remember it till the day I die.
Q - Do you work full time in Falconry?
A - Not anymore, I’m an Architectural Technician and I really enjoy my job, but it’s always good to get home and go out hunting with Ren. I plan to work for myself one day so I can spend more time hunting as I won’t be confined to the office 9-5.
Q - What is the part of Falconry you enjoy the most?
A - Spending time out in the wild with my bird. I love being out in the countryside, listening to birds sing and enjoying the scenery. I also really like speaking to others who are interested in Falconry/birds of prey. My nephew is 8 years old and he loves to come out hunting with me and we also go out looking for Peregrines, Ospreys and other birds. It certainly beats sitting in front of the telly anyway.
Q - If you have one ambition or goal in Falconry, what is it?
A - To hunt grouse, with a female Peregrine from waiting on over a pointer. I’m hoping to get a puppy after I get married (in 2020) so once that’s trained it’ll be on to the falcon. I can’t wait. P.S. I’m also looking forward to the wedding.
Q - Dream bird to fly?!
A - This is the most difficult question to answer as it changes all the time. At the moment though I’d say either Goshawk or Golden Eagle or maybe a male Sharp-Shinned Hawk (sorry I can’t say just one!)
Q - For those new to Falconry or thinking about getting started, what would be your one bit of key advice?
A - Don’t rush. I waited over 5 years from when I first started volunteering to get my first bird. It’s important you think carefully about what you want to get from falconry. It’s a big commitment to have something that is entirely dependent on you, you just can’t go away for a weekend break or overnight stay without putting plans in place for the bird.
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